New Year, New Zealand

Hola and kia ora! Looks like we made it!

Since this is my first official post on holacarly, I’ll back up and provide some context. For those of you just tuning in, I’ve just moved from my hometown of Seattle to New Zealand on the 12-month Working Holiday visa. Why, you ask? The shortest version of the story is that my friend Mary and I have talked about visiting Australia and New Zealand since we graduated UW and now, almost 3 years later, the timing finally worked out for both of us. So while I was finishing out my job in the states, Mary spent a few months traveling through Australia and then I met up with her a little over a week ago in Auckland. Since then, it’s been a whirlwind; so let me get you up to speed.

After 22 hours of travel I stepped off of my third plane and onto kiwi land. The thrill began to fade as I stood at baggage claim and watched as the rotating wheel of anxiety delivered bag after bag to my fellow travelers. I started to get a pit in my stomach when the same bags passed me for the third time and my 75L REI backpack was still nowhere to be found. I knew I was in trouble when the same folks that were in the bag check line in front of me at SeaTac were also in front of me in the Bag Services line at the Auckland airport. Fortunately (or unfortunately) this wasn’t my first time at the lost bag rodeo—a few years ago on the way back from Spain my backpack got stuck in Chicago—so I wasn’t too panicked.

But you know that scene in Meet the Parents when Ben Stiller’s character does everything humanly possible to stop his bag from being checked because he’s so sure it will get lost if he does? I feel that. I hate checking luggage because it really sucks to be stranded without your bag. With that in mind, I packed my carry-on with about three changes of clothes and all of my electronics. So I wasn’t without my bare essentials and valuables, but I was without approximately 42.5 pounds of my clothes and shoes for around four days.

Key takeaways from this debacle? Always pack your carry-on with essentials, and always get travel insurance that covers baggage delay. My travel insurance with World Nomads covered $150 in expenses each day for up to five days. So I dedicate my first official holacarly shout-out goes to World Nomads.

And the second official holacarly shout-out goes to Emily and Mary for picking me up at the airport and waiting patiently while I got my bag situation sorted out. Cheers guys. We zoomed out of the airport in Emily’s little green Mazda and pretty much haven’t stopped since.

We spent a couple of days in Leigh at Emily’s family Bach (basically a holiday home, I still haven’t figured out why they’re called baches) and then drove from there to Mangawhai for New Years music festival called Northern Bass. Pretty much everyone goes away for New Years here, since it’s summertime and usually nice weather for camping, boating, hiking, or whatever your outdoor pleasure may be.

Sunset on our first day of Northern Bass.

Getting schooled in NZ hip-hop by Scribe and P-Money at Northern Bass.

After New Year's we headed to the sunny far north with Emily’s flatmate Aidan. Third official shout-out goes to Aidan for basically shuttling around an endless 3-person karaoke session. We made it all the way to Cape Reinga at the top of the North Island, with stops at Paihia and Ninety Mile Beach along the way.

Paihia - Bay of Islands

Cruising along Ninety-mile beach.

Lighthouse at Cape Reinga.


On the way back down the island we took a quick detour through the Waipoua Forest to visit Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest in Maori.) Tane Mahuta is the largest living Kauri tree in the world and probably the oldest living thing in New Zealand, somewhere between 1250 and 2500 years old. Unfortunately we weren’t able to give ol’ Tane a tree hug, since stepping on the Kauri roots will kill the tree. We skipped the hugs and stuck to photos, which don’t do justice to the tree’s presence in person, but you get the idea.

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And there we go! You’re all caught up! Next up is a bus tour that will take Mary and me throughout the South Island for about a month. Hopefully holacarly updates will be more regular going forward. But as is always the case when traveling, I’ll be at the mercy of hostel wifi.

So here's to a new year and new adventures!


Carly Backman